Singaporeans from one walk of life have agreed that Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools are the root of all racial disparities in the city-state. The unprecedented consensus comes after an article from 2017, titled “The Special Assistance Plan: Singapore’s own bumiputera policy”, did the rounds again on Facebook.
Those sharing the article online, mostly alumni of Raffles Institution and Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), were vocal in their condemnation of SAP schools. “The author’s use of evidence is really devastating,” said Lorraine Neo, a member of the Old Rafflesians’ Association. “Look, in 2017, literally every Permanent Secretary was Chinese. In the very next paragraph, the writer explains how the government holds scholarship fairs at Hwa Chong. Isn’t it obvious that the SAP is responsible?”
When notified that correlation did not mean causation, Neo was dismissive. “Everyone wants to talk about other causes, like the power of Chinese clan associations, the favourable treatment of Chinese groups by the British regime, and Chinese capital accumulation as merchant intermediaries during the colonial era causing inequalities that remain today. That’s all ancient history – we have SAP schools, so we have Chinese privilege! Don’t they know education is the most important shaper of our society?”
“Anyway,” she said, “don’t confuse me with your statistical mumbo-jumbo, I was in the Humanities Programme.”
Other commenters were more willing to countenance the possibility that such imbalances were caused by more than just eleven SAP secondary schools. “Yeah, I totally buy that racial inequality could be caused by other things, like our National Service policy or an outmoded CMIO classification system,” said Anthony Wong, an ACS(I) Old Boy.
“But I think SAP schools get off way too easily,” he continued. “When I was 15, the Straits Times ranked secondary schools by how many friends from other races students reported they had. ACS(I) ranked last! Last! But only because they excluded Hwa Chong and other SAP schools. I wasn’t bugged that we were the least diverse – I mean, yeah, the sons of rich businessmen are mostly Chinese, duh – but isn’t it so unfair that SAP schools weren’t called out too? Now that’s privilege.”
When asked how many non-Chinese friends he had now, Wong answered proudly. “I’ve got loads!” Then he hesitated. “Um, if you count white people, that is. I am studying Law at Oxford, you know.”